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Matthew Pesner


When he’s not busy as a fifth-year Ph.D. in the department of economics at Vanderbilt University, Matthew Pesner enjoys traveling and the opportunity to get out and see the world around him.

As an adolescent, Matthew Pesner had a few chances to travel. When he moved to Colorado for his undergrad at Colorado College, Matthew’s interest in travel expanded to a hobby and one of his favorite pastimes with friends. He had always enjoyed skiing, so much so that it was one of the most influencing factors when it came to choosing a university. Colorado is known for its prime skiing locations, but when Matthew arrived he was immersed in a local culture which was built on spending time outdoors and in nature. What started as an enjoyment for skiing quickly grew into a general fondness for spending time in nature, and together with his friends he started regularly engaging in outdoor activities. He and his friends would take road trips to hike and explore new places, taking trips to Utah and Idaho and even Mexico once for fun.

When it comes to travel, Matthew Pesner is particularly fond of visiting cities, especially the major metropolises around the United States. He likes the old bustling hive of activity that comes with Chicago, the way that New York never seems to sleep, and how vast and full San Francisco is, nestled along the West Coast.

Outside of the United States, Matthew has had the opportunity to visit a few cities and countries throughout Europe, including Paris, England, Scotland, and the South of Spain, soaking in the culture, sights, and cuisines. He’s also had the chance to visit Israel and explore the beautiful country there.

In his academic career, Matthew Pesner is a fifth-year Ph.D. Student at Vanderbilt University in the department of economics with interests in the intersection of economic history, public economics, and labor economics. He has research experience in economic history, health economics, and labor economics. Through his research, Matthew Pesner seeks an understanding of the development of the safety net in the United States over the 20th century, focusing on significant changes to Social Security and Public Assistance programs in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In particular, he studies what effects these changes had on family structure dynamics, as well as how the state and federal governments interacted to finance these programs.

Matthew has always been interested broadly in the determinants and effects of poverty. As a graduate student, Matthew has discovered areas in which he can contribute, using modern advances in program evaluation and causal inference to analyze previous expansions to Social Insurance programs over the mid-20th century, and what we can learn from these events to help improve policy today. 

Prior to pursuing his doctorate, Matthew Pesner earned his Master of Arts degree also from Vanderbilt University in 2018. Throughout his academic career, he’s worked as a research assistant, teaching assistant, and a college tutor. Matthew’s teaching experience includes econometrics, health economics, economic history, microeconomics, and labor economics. Matthew completed his undergraduate degree at Colorado College, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematical Economics from the college’s Department of Economics.

Learn more about Matthew Pesner and his tips and advice for travel by visiting his blog page!

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